The Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes hosted by the Melbourne Racing Club is Victoria’s richest race for two-year-old horses run under set weight conditions.
The 1200-metre race is held at the Caulfield Racecourse where fillies carry 53 kgs. and colts and geldings 55 ½ kgs.
The prizemoney pool is $1.5 million, so connections with capable two-year-olds have the chance quickly to recoup their investment in buying and training a Thoroughbred. The current prizemoney received a 50 percent boost from $1 million in 2016.
First place is worth $900,000, second, $270,000 and third place $135,000.
History of the Blue Diamond Stakes
We view the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes as though it was the big end-of-year dance for two-year-olds. It is not the end of any year, certainly, but with the two Group 3 Blue Diamond Preludes run for separate gender, the Stakes is where the boys and girls get together.
It has always been a 1200-metre sprint so long as no one quibbles about the first two years, when the Blue Diamond Stakes was under the old furlong system.
It has always been considered a Group 1 race.
Since its inception in 1971, several of the finest sprinters have gone to achieve greater success after their tasting victory in the Blue Diamond Stakes. Tolerance was the first horse to win the event which was a principal race until 1980 when it was elevated to Group 1 after attracting the finest crop of sprinters aiming for the million dollar prize on what is the biggest day during the autumn racing carnival in at Caulfield. Among the most notable horses to win the Blue Diamond Stakes is Manikato, a champion Australian thoroughbred racehorse, in 1978. Manikato went on to win several other stake races in the same year, which included the Invitation Stakes, Caulfield Guineas, and Golden Slipper Stakes. Other classy sprinters to win Victoria’s richest trophy for two year olds include Blazing Saddles in 1977, Zeditave in 1988, Danelagh in 1998, Alinghi in 2004, and Star Witness in 2010.
Top horses to win a Blue Diamond Prelude / Stakes double include Alinghi, Love a Show, Bounding Away, Courtza, Lady Jakeo, and Psychologist, among the fillies. Colts that won the double include Rancher in 1982, Let's Get Physical in 1985, Bel Esprit in 2002, and Sepoy in 2011.
Jockey Dwayne Dunn was lucky to lift the Blue Diamond Stakes on four occasions while trainer David Hayes saddled five winners. The Blue Diamond Stakes is also a form guide for the Group 2 Todman Stakes.
There has never been a dead-heat result in the race, but in 2003, first past the post Roedean was disqualified over a failed drug test and the win was credited to Kusi.
Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne needs little by way of description. It is one of the oldest courses and the Caulfield Cup during the spring racing carnival is Caulfield Racecourse’s most famous event.
There are currently, as of 2021, 12 Group 1, eight Group 2s and 19 Group 3s.
Other major races held at Caulfield include the Caulfield Guineas, the C F Orr Stakes, the Oakleigh Plate and the Underwood Stakes.
Racing History of the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes
Following the 2020 edition, the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes has been run 50 times. That makes it a relatively new event, considering many major Australian Thoroughbred races have three times the number of runnings.
Another thing that supplies some limitation from the perspective of history is that as an age-restricted race, horses only get one chance to try the race.
Many capable two-year-olds have won, but by comparison with open handicap and weight-for-for age races where a horse can win multiple times, the winners’ list for the Blue Diamond Stakes has many one-off winners that did not fulfill their promise as they became older and had to consistently compete against top horses from other categories.
We are not implying that some of the previous winners did not win again, but only that there have been just a handful that went forward to carve great racing careers.
The first of the truly significant winners was Manikato in 1978. When you look at the prizemoney totals of late, when stakes have gradually increased in many races and some races have come along to offer gargantuan purses, it is worth noting that Manikato was only the second horse to surpass $1 million in earnings, the first being Kingstown Town.
Manikato had some wins that were just ahead of the modern classification system and it is fair to say that he won 20 races that were at Group 1 level or would be deemed such further along.
Unlike other Blue Diamond Stakes winners that dimmed as they grew older, Manikato kept winning, and winning big for his entire 47-race career.
He won the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes the same year he won the Blue Diamond Stakes.
Manikato set course records in three races. His first record was his win as a three-year-old in the 1978 Ascot Vale Stakes, a race now known as the Coolmore Stud Stakes.
What fairly leaps from the history books with regard to Manikato, however, was his stranglehold on a couple of the major Victorian races.
He holds four Group 1 Futurity Stakes wins at Caulfield and he owned the Group 1 William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley Racecourse from 1979 – 1983, winning five times.
To prove he was not strictly a left-turner, he went north and to the right to win two Group 1 George Ryder Stakes in 1979 and 1980.
He won or placed in 42 of 47 races, an almost ludicrous strike rate of just under 90 percent.
Manikato would eventually receive two significant awards – Australian Horse of the Year in 1979 and the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2002.
Manikato had the misfortune to contract a virus not long after he retired in 1983 and he was euthanised in early 1984.
The next big winner was Zeditave. His win in the Blue Diamond Stakes in 1988 was accompanied by another Group 1 win, known then as the QTC Channel 9 Stakes, known now as the J J Atkins Stakes. Prior to winning the Blue Diamond Stakes, Zeditave won his division in the Blue Diamond Prelude. He won three Group 1 races when he returned as a three-year-old.
Zeditave was a win-only horse. He made 17 starts, winning 14 and never placing.
It required 10 more runnings of the Blue Diamond Stakes to bring us o 1999 winner Redoute’s Choice. He made a big impact of the sport of Thoroughbred racing. He only made 10 starts, but he made the most by winning five and placing three times. One of his Group 1 wins was the namesake race of one of our other champions, Manikato, thus, the Manikato Stakes. He won big races and over $1.5 million total prizemoney.
His impact on racing was amplified by his stud record. Starting from 2000, he was the Champion First Crop sire for 2003 – 2004. The next year, he was the Champion 2nd Crop Sire. He was declared outright Australian Champion Sire on three occasions and Australian Champion Broodmare Sire once.
Redoute’s Choice sired almost 200 stakes winners and many of his progeny would prove adept at the stud business.
Snitzel, Miss Finland and Samantha Miss are three of Redoute’s Choice’s significant offspring. Lankan Rupee won six Group 1s. Two others are The Autumn Sun and King’s Legacy, and that is only the Australian horses.
After a number of years where no Blue Diamond Stakes made much noise on the turf, 2004 provided Alinghi. Horse Racing Australia.
Alinghi was foaled in 2001. She was by Encosta De Lago. She won four Group 1 races in all, including the 2005 Newmarket Handicap. She was declared Australian Champion Three Year Old Filly in 2005. She died giving birth in 2017, which provides a stark reminder that it is not only racing that supplies danger to the lives of Thoroughbreds.
The next name on the list of significant winners of the Blue Diamond Stakes is 2011 winner Sepoy.
Like 1988 Blue Diamond Stakes winner Zeditave, Sepoy won his Blue Diamond Preview division and like Manikato, he won the Golden Slipper Stakes in his debut racing season. At three years of age, Sepoy won, just as did Redoute’s Choice, the Group 1 Manikato Stakes in 2011 to complete that double.
Sepoy’s Manikato Stakes win can be seen here.
Samaready was the 2012 winner. He won the Group 1 Moir Stakes that same year, along with one Group 2 and two Group 3 races. He was denied the chance to add the Golden Slipper Stakes to his racing resume. He jumped as a clear favourite, but he was beaten by Pierro and Snitzerland by a margin of two lengths to the winner.
Our next significant winner was Extreme Choice in 2016. His other big win was the Group 1 A J Moir Stakes that same year. In the Moir Stakes, he beat Chautauqua and Buffering in a sprint race. Not many sprinters can make an equivalent claim. He remained entire and was charging $22,000 for his DNA in 2018. He did not win a lot but his pedigree ensured that he would not be idly gelded. Not A Single Doubt was his sire and his grandsire was former Blue Diamond Stakes winner Redoute’s Choice.
That run can be seen here.
Catchy would win in 2017 after her win in the Blue Diamond Preview. She was retired after winning six times and placing a further four from 17 starts. She won nearly $2 million. She never won at Group 1 level again, but she did win a Group 2 level. She was consistent enough to finish well in some major races and accumulate a nice haul.
Written By was the 2018 Blue Diamond Stakes winner. Like Catchy, Written By did not produce a lot of victories, but he did win six times and place once before being sent to the sheds. His sire was Written Tycoon and there is little doubt the connections are hoping for some more wins to be written. The Blue Diamond Stakes was his only win a Group 1 level, but he was in the mix in the Golden Slipper Stakes and several other races.
Lyre, the 2019 winner, won her division in the Blue Diamond Prelude and one reason to include her here is to shine a little light on how prizemoney has grown. The Blue Diamonds are her only significant wins from 19 starts. With Lonhro as her sire and Octagonal as her grandsire, it would be reasonable to assume there were higher expectations for Lyre, but she has managed to return over $1.7 million to Goldolphin.
Contrast that to what was mentioned earlier about Manikato being the second horse to surpass $1 million in earnings.
Finally, the 2020 Blue Diamond Stakes winner was Tagaloa. He is still racing, but for how much longer, as of February 2021, is hard to say. He has won almost $1.4 million, but his results are all over the map. He cost Busuttin Racing $300,000 at the 2019 Magic Millions sale, which is one reason to keep him intact. Another is that his sire, Lord Kanaloa, is Japan’s most expensive stallion.
Two-year-old races seldom fail to deliver excitement. The Blue Diamond Stakes is no exception. It is Victoria’s richest two-year-old race, so the field is always strong.
Trying to tip the winner can be quite a challenge, as many of the previous Blue Diamond Stake winners demonstrate.
The element that really strikes us about the Blue Diamond Stakes, however, is that winners here are often found in the winners’ circle or on the podium of other major Victorian races, especially as juveniles, with a few having gone on to more accomplishments with age.
The old adage of Horse for Courses would seem to have a literal application in this scenario.
|Year||Blue Diamond Stakes Winners|
|2015||Pride Of Dubai|
|2013||Miracles Of Life|
|2009||Reward For Effort|
|2000||Road To Success|
|1985||Let's Get Physical|
|1983||Love A Show|
|1976||Out Of Danger|